Parent’s Corner: 6 Reasons to Send Your Student a Care Package

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With your kid going off to school, you may be missing those little moments you’ve spent together or the times you’ve spoiled them with a little extra attention. With them not at home or near by, it can be difficult to think of ways to show that same kind of love and attention all year round. That’s why we love the convenience and fun of sending care packages throughout the year. Whether to celebrate or to make the transition easier, there are so many reasons to send your student a care package today. Here’s our six top reasons to send a care package.

1.   To Celebrate

Are you a mom who still sends Valentines or decorates the house in green for St. Patrick’s Day? Or are you a dad who hates missing out on birthdays or reasons to say “awesome job!” on a test or award? With care packages, you can be sure that no special occasion is missed. With holiday themed packages, you can send sweetheart messages  – while birthday packages come with balloons and party hats.

2.   To Stock Their Snacks

A sweet tooth should never be ignored! But with college cafeterias charging a premium for indulgences like chocolate and chips, your student may be going without. Be sure their dorm room pantry is as loaded up with options as it was at your house with one of our many snack filled baskets. From comfort foods like cookies and brownies to essential pig out food such as microwave popcorn and chocolate, there are so many options to get them through the year!

3.   To Take the Pressure Off

Midterms, end of the semester finals, big papers, auditions, presentations, internship applications — even during your student’s freshman year, the stress can add up quickly. With care packages meant to send both boosts of energy and morale, you can say “go get ‘em” without being there. With customizable messages, you can even write out your favorite inspiring quotes or show them that you believe in them.

4.   To Welcome Them

Moving into the dorms can be scary for both you and your student, especially if they’ve never been far from home before. Just as you would a friend moving into a new home, shower them with a special gift to welcome them to their new home. Picking up that package at their new door may even relieve some major homesickness issues.

5.   To Improve Their Health

Care packages aren’t limited to snacks, comfort foods, and chocolates. There are several care packages that are designed for healthy eaters or those with food allergies. From gluten free packs to granolas and fresh fruits, you’re not limited. There are even care packages to be sent when your student is feeling under the weather, that’s full of tasty soups and teas. Finally, if food isn’t what they need to stay at their peak, send a care package full of toiletries like soap, shampoo, and facial cleansers.

6.   To Just Say “Hello”

Care packages don’t have to have a rhyme or reason. You can send yours just because you feel like it or because you think your student could use a little random show of love. That’s what college care packages are for — to make life just a little brighter with a special message from its sender!

Parent’s Corner: How to Prepare Yourself for Thanksgiving Break

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Have you been counting down the days until your college student comes home for break? You’re not alone! For many parents, Thanksgiving will be the first time you see your child since dropping them off on their first day. Thanksgiving is the best time to get some quality bonding in without having to worry about rushing back on Monday morning. However, Thanksgiving break may not be all that you imagine it will be, your child could be expecting you to treat them differently. Here we break down a few situations that might occur during their time at home:

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1.   Expect them to want space.

Don’t be surprised if your student isn’t as eager to celebrate being home as you are. Attempting to have it “just as before” may alienate them or make them feel like a child. Instead, give them some leeway. Negotiate curfew times and give them time to go visit with friends or to spend quiet time away from the family.

2.   Expect them to be afraid to talk.

Some parents are eager to hear what it is like living in the dorms or going to class in pajamas. However, other parents may make it clear that they do not approve of some college behaviors like staying out late at night or dating. Because of this, some students are hesitant to open up about their first semester in school. If you want to hear about their experiences, allow them to give it to you in doses. Ask more open-ended questions like, “Can you tell me about your favorite class?” or “I know you took that Art History class, did you like the professor?”

3.   Expect them to need relaxation.

Expect a lot of sleeping in! College can be stressful and tiring for even the most laid-back student. Taking a nap during the afternoon or wanting to head to bed at 9pm is the norm for returning students. Let them schedule their time home as needed, and give them options on participation. Low-stress is the best way to beat the vacation blues.

How Have an Enjoyable Break with Your Child

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Pamper Them (To an Extent)

Offer to do a load of laundry or to help them get to the airport. It’s the little comforts that make students excited to come back to see mom and dad.

Be Nostalgic

Your college student will likely still want to participate in cutting the turkey or watching your favorite holiday movie. Just because they moved out doesn’t mean you should stop with beloved traditions!

Keep it Low-Pressure

Putting too much emphasis on spending time together or making this holiday perfect may make your college student feel unwelcome. Plus, with finals around the corner and huge projects due, adding stress to their plate may make it worse for them.

Be Thankful for Their Achievements

Take a moment out of the busy holiday break to express your thankfulness for their hard work at school. Tell them how proud you are of their first semester back or that you look forward to seeing them in the next theater production. These little moments make the breaks memorable.

Parent’s Corner: 3 Ways to Appreciate Your “Empty Nest”

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Saying goodbye to college-aged children can bring up strong emotions, especially for first-time “empty nesters.” Going from 18 years of carting children around to having a quiet, kid-free home is a tough transition – even if you may have looked forward to it for years. Learning to love the freedom by finding enjoyment in the newly empty nest can change your entire perspective on life during your child’s college years! Below are some starting points for you to consider:

1.   Transform Your Kid’s Room

There is an ongoing debate about what to do with a child’s room once he or she has traded in an old bedroom for a dorm room. One thought is to keep the room their home base to encourage frequent visits. However, if your child now lives far from home or has an apartment for the entire year, having an empty room gathering dust can bring up more negative emotions than positives.

Reimagining the room can be a great way to slowly transition. Be reassuring that you will keep a bed for them and place their possessions in a closet or storage unit. Then, make a plan on how you can utilize the room. Make it into a new office, design a painting or craft room, or add a few leather seats and a projector for a movie space that your child will love to come home to!

2.   Don’t Stick Around

This is the perfect time to travel. For your child’s entire life, you probably picked vacations or even stayed home because of their own wants and needs. Now that they’re off on a new adventure, you’re next! Take a road trip across the United States, visit family on the other side of the country, or even board a plane for an entirely different continent. The choices are endless when you let your dreams guide you.

While travel is enticing, don’t forget to be there for your child as well, especially if they are freshmen. During this big transition, they may want to have you around for events such as a recital, homecoming, or parent’s week. Holidays, a time when all college students love to head home, may be another time when you’ll have to stay put.

3.   Throw an Adults-Only Party

Did your home become a “party place” for your children with lots of teenagers running around? Why not mimic them by inviting your own crowd over for parties? Plan dinner parties, barbecues, or pool nights. Book clubs, church meetings, and charity potlucks are also great and productive uses of a house that is made for hosting.

Consider sprucing up the place to be a relaxing retreat not only for yourself but also for your friends. If you have neighbors that are going through empty nest syndrome themselves, it may be a great way to rally around each other. After all, it takes a community to get through the first year as a parent of a college student. By easing your home and yourself through the stages of “empty nesting,” you can come out on top with a life you always envisioned having when your children become adults.

Parent’s Corner: How to Reduce Stress about Your Child’s Safety in College

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After years of living under your roof, sending your child off to college for the first time can be a shock to the system. With so many horror stories about safety at universities, you may not only be mourning an empty nest, but also be worried about their wellbeing while they are away. While this is a great time for both you and your child to grow as different people, we understand that you will have inevitable nerves about them being alone. Thankfully, in today’s society you can more “plugged in” than ever. With new technology and some simple steps, you can reduce your stress and anxiety over college safety.

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1.   Stay Up to Date

You don’t have to be a college student to get alerts about what is going on around campus or if there are any emergencies. Ask your child’s university about how to sign up for text, email, and call alerts. These alerts will keep you informed on a variety of different situations from something as serious as robberies to inclement weather, or even a loss of power. You can also set up a Google Alert to inform you of any news on campus.

2.   Grab Contacts

One of the most important numbers to have on you is your child’s roommate. While you shouldn’t call for any reason, contact them when there is an emergency as they most likely are closest person to your child to reach. You should also know the numbers of your student’s department, counselor, and any close friend or boyfriend/girlfriend. But beware! Use these numbers or emails in a case of a REAL emergency or risk losing trust.

3.   Take a Safety Class with Them

A great activity to do with your student is a safety or self-defense course. Offered at many community centers and gyms, your student will leave feeling prepared and you will have gained a sense of empowerment to help in dangerous situations. Plus, going together can be a great way to open up the conversation on overall safety concerns you or they may have.

4.   Set Up a Checkup Time

One of the hardest things a parent will have to do is to let go. Not seeing or hearing from your child every day can be frustrating and even upsetting, especially when you worry. Before your student goes to school, set up an amount of time you expect to be called or emailed. It should be reasonable, considering that they need their space and freedom as much as you need to know they are alright. Every other day is a great start, attempt to make it once a week by the end of the semester!

5.   Give Them the Tools

When you’re packing for your student’s departure, you will probably want to go through a lecture of how to be safe and alert. The truth is that a lot of that information may go over their heads. Instead, gift them a safety box full of handy items. For example, pack a first aid kit, back up medications, phone numbers for doctors and family members, a list of campus resources (such as university police), and defense items such as pepper spray or safety whistles. Then, place it in a lockbox or safe that can easily be stored under a bed or in a closet. You’ll rest easy knowing that they have all that they need to be safe and secure while living and studying on campus.

What are your biggest concerns about child safety? If you’re a student, how do you help your parent stay calm? Let us know!

 

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Parent’s Corner: 8 Ways to Avoid Being a Helicopter College Parent

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Sending your child off to college for the first time means facing the unknown. For the first time in their lives, you will have to deal with not being there to see if they are studying or taking care of themselves. And because of some additional restrictions, teachers and administrators may not even be allowed to talk to you about grades, progress, or other issues that may come up. Letting go of being a helicopter parent, especially if you were one during the high school years, takes a whole lot of patience, love, and trust. Here are eight ways to ensure you stay grounded.

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1.   Establish Boundaries

Before your student heads off to school, discuss what level of your involvement you both feel is appropriate. Let them take the lead, and then follow their rules as best as possible. They should be the ones that cross the lines when they need you—not the other way around.

2.   Set Up a Communications Schedule

Another good item of discussion during the first semester is having a communication schedule. Calling, texting, or emailing too much can cause your student to pull away or want to connect less. Instead, make a plan to have a long talk on a Wednesday when they are halfway through the week, and not burnt out from classes. You’ll find the conversation will be more open and effective when there is a lot to discuss.

3.   Forget About Grades

In high school, the goal was to get the best grades so that your student could get into his or her dream school. Now, the endgame is to graduate with a job lined up. Sure, you want them to pass and have a sparkling GPA, but it is important to know straight A’s really don’t a difference on a resume.

4.   Focus on Yourself

The best distraction from focusing all your attention on your child is to focus on yourself. This is the perfect time to relax and enjoy the new kind of quiet. Go on a trip, book a spa date, take up a hobby, or even go back to school yourself!

5.   Avoid Surprises

It may be tempting to surprise your student at school. Don’t. Avoid doing this at all costs. While most students have grown out of the “my parents embarrass me” stage by the time college rolls around, being blindsided with a visit on campus can feel like a violation of trust or an inconvenience to their newly established lifestyles.

6.   Don’t Take It Personally

It may hurt to know that you’re no longer a part of their lives like you were in high school—but it’s not personal. Rather, it’s just the way your child grows. By constantly trying to be a part of their world or to take control of their actions, you are inadvertently stifling their development.

7.   Get to the Bottom of Your Anxiety or Worries

Oftentimes, helicopter parents put pressure on their children because of a subconscious desire to live through their children. Whatever your motivation, understand why you feel you need to be involved so you can address it. For example, if you want your child to have opportunities you never did, take this time to enroll in a graduate program or to pursue a dream you have always had.

8.   Celebrate Often

When a student discovers their new independence, almost anything could feel like a win. Praise them when they note they figured out how to use the laundry machines or compliment them on their dorm’s decor. When it comes to grades, celebrate passing, even if it isn’t the perfect expectation you may have.

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